K.R.SOORACHARI vs STATE OF KARNATAKA

Supreme Court of India
CASE NO.:Appeal (crl.)  1285 of 1999

PETITIONER:K.R.SOORACHARI
RESPONDENT:STATE OF KARNATAKA

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 13/04/2005

BENCH:B.P.SINGH & S.B.SINHA

JUDGMENT:J U D G M E N T

  
 This appeal by special leave has been preferred by the appellant
against the judgment and order of the High Court of Karnataka at
Bangalore dated 16th April, 1999 whereby the appellant has been found
guilty of the offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.)
and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. He has been
sentenced to undergo one year rigorous imprisonment on each count and to
pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The sentences
have been directed to run concurrently.
 The brief facts of the case may be noticed :-   The
appellant along with his wife and son was put up for trial before the
Sessions Judge, Chikamagalur. They
   -2-
were charged under Sections 302/34, 201, 203, 498A and 304B, I.P.C. as
also under Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.  The son of
the appellant was accused No.1 (hereinafter referred to as A-1) while his
wife was accused No.3 (hereinafter referred to as A-3).
 The case of the prosecution is that A-1 was married to the
deceased on 27.5.1990. On 4.10.1990 her dead body was found near a
river. The next morning at about 10.00 A.M.  A-1 lodged a report at the
police station to the effect that on the earlier night the deceased had gone
out of the house to clean utencils but did not return, and since it was
raining, the search did not yield any result. In the morning they found her
dead body near a river. On the basis of the report lodged by A-1, the police
ought to have swung into action, but it appears from the judgments of the
Courts below that the police did not act with promptitude as a result of
which much of the evidence was lost. However the autopsy on the dead
body of the deceased revealed the following injuries :-  
          
 1. Five irregular contusion injuries present on the left
shoulder, each measuring 1-1/2 cm x 2 cm.
 2. Contusion injury measuring 3 x 2 on the right
hypothdrine region.
   -3-
 3. Heamotoma measuring 1 x 2 on the right frontal area
present.
 4. Sub durral heamotoma measuring 2 x 1 on the right
frontal area of brain.
 5. Intra corebral heamorrage on the right frontal lobe.
 6. Haemoragic area found on the lower part of anterior
part of liver.
 As noticed earlier, A-1 the son,   A-2 appellant and A-3 the wife
of the appellant were put up for trial before the Sessions Court. By its
judgment and order dated 14th February, 1995 the Trial Court found A-1
guilty of the offence under Section 498A,  I.P.C. but acquitted him of all
other charges. The appellant and A-3 were acquitted of all the charges
levelled against them. The State of Karnataka preferred Criminal Appeal
No.868 of 1995 against the acquittal of the three accused persons of the
charges under Sections 302, 201 etc. while A-1 preferred Criminal Appeal
No.125 of 1995 against his conviction for the offence under Section 498A
IPC. Both the appeals were heard together and were disposed of by a
common judgment Only the appellant (A-2) has impugned the judgment of
the High Court convicting him for offences punishable under Section 498A
IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
   -4-
 We may notice that the High Court allowed the States appeal so
far the appellant is concerned to the extent that it found him guilty of the
offences under Sections 498A IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act. The States appeal as against A-3 was dismissed by the
High Court, and the appeal against acquittal of A-1 on other charges was
also dismissed.  Both A-1 and A-2 preferred a special leave petition before
this Court, but the special leave petition in so far as it related to A-1 was
dismissed at the admission stage itself.
 Shri S.N.Bhat, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that
there was no justification for the High Court to set aside the order of
acquittal passed in favour of the appellant. He submitted that so far as the
offence under Section 498A IPC is concerned, there is no material on
record to support the aforesaid charge.  The evidence only disclosed that
A-1 husband of the deceased entertained a suspicion about her chastity and
that was the reason why she was harassed by him. There is no evidence
whatsoever to connect the appellant with the offence under Section 498A
IPC. He also submitted that so far as the offences under Sections 3,4 and 6
of the Dowry Prohibition Act are concerned, the High Court was not
justified in setting
   -5-
aside the finding of fact recorded by the trial court in favour of the
appellant. We have, therefore, considered the evidence on record placed
before us by counsel for the parties.
 So far as charge under Section 498A IPC is concerned, we are
inclined to agree with the learned counsel for the appellant that there is
really no material to connect the appellant with that offence. In fact the
High Court has not even noticed any such evidence which may justify the
conviction of the appellant under Section 498A IPC. We are, therefore, of
the view that the appellant is entitled to acquittal so far the charge under
Section 498A IPC is concerned. This takes us to a consideration of the
evidence with regard to the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act.
Four witnesses have deposed in support of the prosecution. Pws 1, 2, 4 and
7 are the four witnesses whose evidence was considered by the Trial Court
as also by the High Court. The High Court has come to the conclusion that
the evidence of these witnesses conclusively proves the offences under the
Dowry Prohibition Act, and the Trial Court really gave no cogent reason
for disbelieving these witnesses and acquitting  the appellant.
 The Trial Court has considered the evidence on this aspect of the
matter in paragraph 18 of its judgment. It has
   -6-
noticed the evidence of PW-1, the step father of the deceased that there was a
demand of Rs.20,000/- and some ornaments from the appellant at the time of
marriage negotiations. He expressed his inability to pay such a big sum and
therefore, the amount was reduced from Rs.20,000/- to Rs.10,000/-. As regards
the ornaments, it was decided that only a kapali ring will be given to A-1 and a
mangalsutra shall be given to the bride. In view of the agreement, PW-1 sent
the amount to the appellant through his wife PW-2 and his nephews wife
Yashoda PW-7. They paid the amount to the appellant. PW-2, the wife of PW-
1 corroborated the testimony of PW-1 and stated that three days after the
negotiations she had gone to pay Rs.10,000/- to the appellant along with PW-7
and paid the amount to the appellant. PW-4 has substantially corroborated the
testimony of PW-1 and PW-2. PW-4 is the husband of PW-7. He has however,
not stated that his wife PW-7 went with PW-2 to pay the sum of Rs.10,000/- to
the appellant. PW-7 Yashoda however, deposed the fact that the demand of
Rs.20,000/- by way of dowry was reduced to Rs.10,000/- but she has also not
stated anything about her going with PW-2 to pay the amount to the appellant.
On the basis of such evidence on record the Trial Court concluded that except
the oral testimony of PW-1 and PW-2 there was no other evidence on record to
show that three days
   -7-
after the marriage negotiations PW-1 had sent Rs.10,000/- through his wife and
PW-7 to be paid to the appellant. In view of these circumstances, the Trial
Court came to the conclusion that neither there was any demand for dowry nor
was any amount paid to the appellant by way of dowry. Thus the prosecution
had failed to establish that PW-1 paid to the appellant a sum of Rs.10,000/- by
way of dowry.
 The High Court found that the reasoning of the Trial Court was
unsustainable. We have also considered the evidence on record and we find
that four witnesses have consistently deposed about the manner in which the
negotiations were held and how the demand of Rs.20,000/- was reduced to
Rs.10,000/- and the further fact that the said amount of Rs.10,000/- was paid to
the appellant through PW-2 and PW-7. The only deficiency in the evidence
which the Trial Court found was that PW-7 did not state in her deposition that
she had gone with PW-2 to hand over the amount to the appellant. In view of
the other evidence on record this fact by itself did not justify the  conclusion
that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. The evidence on record is quite
consistent and PW-2, in fact, stated that she had gone with PW-7 to pay the
amount. It is not the case of the defence that PW-7 denied having gone to the
appellant. Much was sought to be made of
   -8-

READ  Sexual Crime, POSCO Act, Victim Compensation and Direction

the omission  on her part to mention that she had gone with PW-7 to pay the
amount to the appellant. The finding recorded by the Trial Court in our view
completely ignores the cogent and reliable evidence on record which proves the
case of the prosecution that dowry was demanded and paid.  Such a finding
ignoring relevant evidence can not be sustained even in an appeal against
acquittal.

 We, therefore, find that the conviction of the appellant under the
Dowry Prohibition Act is fully justified. We, therefore, set aside the conviction
of the appellant under Section 498A IPC but affirm his conviction and sentence
under Sections 3,4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

 The appeal is, accordingly, partly allowed, setting aside the
conviction under Section 498A IPC, but upholding the conviction and sentence
under Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

 The appellant is on bail. His bail bonds are cancelled.  He shall
forthwith surrender to his sentence
   -9-

failing which the State shall take necessary steps to apprehend him to serve out
the remainder of his sentence.

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